LIFE was simple when there were just saloon cars, estates and convertibles. Take your pick...
Then along came people-carriers, SUVs and crossovers. And now the surging sector of Sports Utility Vehicles is sub-dividing and fragmenting into ‘classlets'... if that's a word.
There are those that are styled like a full cream off-roader and others which aim to be more car-like both in terms of appearance and driving. The market-leading Nissan Qashqai falls into the latter category while the Toyota RAV4 definitely has the rugged lines and characteristics of four-wheel-drive.
Ironically, only a small proportion of the breed is actually driven by both axles.
An exception is the rakish looking Kia Sportage reviewed her in flagship GT Line S guise, although the more popular versions are cheaper front-drive only.
Behind the distinctive ‘tiger' grille and muscular profile, there's an all purpose family car that focuses chiefly on comfort and ease of driving with a flourish of off-road ability. Sporting prowess is not its aim - despite its name.
Powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine - diesels are also available - it has a fair turn of speed with 62mph coming up in under nine seconds and a max of 125mph.
A tad larger in external dimensions than a Qashqai, it has plenty of cabin space for four or even five adults and the boot with a capacity of 491litres is a match for most rivals, although the luggage platform is quite high.
Luggage net hooks are provided to anchor down items in the boot - a thoughtful and useful touch.
Kia has come a long way in interior design and the Sportage living area is high on quality and style with plenty of tactile materials and snug fitting mouldings. Dials are clear and easy to read and the touchscreen/infotainment system is logical and simple to use.
There's an abundance of dark plastic around but it's textured and soft-touch making it a welcoming environment, if somewhat sombre.
In GT-Line S form you get plenty of kit including electric driver's seat, leather seating with red stitching, power tailgate, LED map light, dual zone air con and adaptive cruise control. Also standard is a wide-opening panoramic glass sunroof which helps lighten the interior but has minimal effect on passengers' headroom.
Kia engine designers have done well to squeeze 174bhp out of a 1.6litre engine, but it's not the most frugal unit on the scene. Our average of 33mpg over 520 miles was close to the official combined figure but may fall short of some families' expectations.
Handling and roadholding is safe and predictable and if somewhat lacking in dynamics, while the ride is compliant and easy-going. Cornering roll is limited despite decent bump absorption.
Noise levels are considerably lower than the diesel models and wind noise is almost nonexistent. The seven speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox is a good match for the car's character complementing its relaxed and undemanding nature.